An Illinois lawmaker has apologized after photos from his fundraising event showed attendees simulating an assassination of President Donald Trump.
Photos taken at a fundraising event for Illinois state Sen. Martin Sandoval (D) showed one attendee pointing a fake gun at another attendee wearing a Trump mask and traditional Mexican clothes. The person wearing the Trump mask is seen grasping his chest implying that he has been shot.
A political fundraiser for @SenatorSandoval simulates an assassination attempt against a mock @realDonaldTrump deck… https://t.co/TDyItNlX86— Mark Maxwell (@Mark Maxwell) 1566063934.0
According to WCIA-TV, Sandoval hosted the fundraising event Friday night in Winfield, a suburb of Chicago. Donors paid a minimum of $250 to attend the event, which was hosted at a golf club.
It's not clear if Sandoval knew about the pictures when they were taken, but Sandoval is pictured with the man who held the toy gun in the controversial pictures.
Sandoval later issued an apology for the pictures.
"The incident that took place is unacceptable. I don't condone violence toward the President or anyone else. I apologize that something like this happened at my event," he told WCIA in a statement.
What was the response?
Despite Sandoval's apology, the incident generated widespread controversy and bipartisan condemnation.
"As our nation grapples with the epidemic of gun violence, purposely pointing a fake gun at anyone is insensitive and wrong. I condemn actions like the ones displayed in the pictures because they lack the civility our politics demands," Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) said.
Maura Possley, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Party of Illinois, called the images "unacceptable and dangerous."
"The tragedies in El Paso and Gilroy have demonstrated how hate-filled political rhetoric can fuel violence," she said, according to WCIA. "These images are unacceptable and dangerous. The place to make our voices heard against Trump is at the ballot box."
Tim Schneider, chairman of the Republican Illinois Party, called Sandoval's apology "too little, too late." He told WCIA, via a spokesperson:
The apology from Sen. Sandoval for the detestable pictures from his event depicting an assassination of President Trump is too little, too late. Dangerous imagery like this will be condemned and seen as inappropriate by people of sound mind; however, a mentally unstable individual who wants to harm President Trump might find them as an inspiration. It's inexcusable for an elected official to allow the promotion of violence in any way. If the individual pictured is a staffer or volunteer, they should be terminated immediately.
Even White House counselor Kellyanne Conway chimed in on social media.
Every Democrat should be asked if they support or disavow this. https://t.co/7nRXtzIXqz— Kellyanne Conway (@Kellyanne Conway) 1566174090.0